Joy Williams: Eight Essential Attributes of a Short Story

  1. There should be a clean clear surface with much disturbance below;
  2. An anagogical level;
  3. Sentences that can stand strikingly alone;
  4. An animal within to give its blessing;
  5. Interior voices which are or become wildly erratically exterior;
  6. Control throughout is absolutely necessary;
  7. The story's effect should transcend the naturalness and accessibility of its situation and language;
  8. A certain coldness is required in execution. It is not a form that gives itself to consolation but if consolation is offered it should come from an unexpected quarter.

A novel wants to befriend you, a short story almost never.


Very much like the first, and the third, sixth, and eighth. Have no idea what she means by the fourth.